2012 Coaching Analysis
The 5-Year Plan, Part 4
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Coaching Analysis & Breakdowns By Conference
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2012 Hot Seat Status
Pressure - Can Afford Two Bad Years
Real Worries. - Can Afford A Clunker
To Win, Or The Pressure Is On
Clunk In 2012, Worry In 2013
Pressure Cooker. The REAL Hot Seat
It's simple: you have to hire a coach for your
program with a five-year plan to build it up. Who'd
be the best coach to take? No, this isn't a
ranking of the best coaches in college
football right now; this is a ranking of who'd be
best to take over and be in for the relative long
That's why age plays a huge factor - it's not a lock
that a coach will still want to do this in his 70s -
but it's mostly about who can get the job done. The
younger, though, the better.
2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings
- The Top 20 |
- Part 3 - 51-75 |
- Part 5 - The bottom 24
76. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Holliday has gotten off to a mediocre start in Huntington, winning only 12 of his first 25 games as a head coach. To be fair, he inherited a difficult situation from Mark Snyder, and a collection of talent that fell south of the Conference USA power brokers. The primary attraction to Holliday centers on his ability to sell, attracting high-caliber talent wherever he’s worked over the past three decades. His intense and energetic personality has a penchant for inspiring those around him, from assistant coaches and players to the student body and overall fan base. While not an elite X’s and O’s type coach, he’ll go out and surround himself with quality people to help him in the gaps in his game.
77. Bill O’Brien, Penn State
There’s a chance he could be special. Just 43 this October, O’Brien is young, smart, and fortunately for the times, outside of the Penn State family. There’s no pressure on him, and there’s all the pressure in the world weighing on his shoulders, all at the same time. Following in the footsteps of one of the greatest coaches in American sports history is obviously a daunting task, especially when emotions are still so raw and there’s still such blind affection coming from the base, but he might be in an unwinnable situation with no real expectations whatsoever.
If Penn State football becomes mediocre to awful, there’s a ready-made, built-in excuse that everyone will buy – parents just might not want to let their kids go to Penn State. Even so, he’s young enough and energetic enough to do what’s needed to rebuild the program from the rubble, but it might be the toughest job in all of college football.
78. Garrick McGee, UAB
The Blazers ought to feel fortunate to have landed McGee, one of the up-and-coming young stars of the coaching profession. He still hasn’t reached his 39th birthday, yet can already boast successful stops as the offensive coordinator at Northwestern and Arkansas. He’s a player’s coach, but not in an undisciplined way, who exudes the leadership and mentoring skills that reverberate throughout a program. McGee has excelled in the area of player development, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, a must regardless of the size of the program. UAB can be a coach-killer, or it can be a lottery ticket that helps catapult an inexperienced coach to a new threshold in his career.
79. Bob Davie, New Mexico
It might seem like Davie is being dragged out of coaching obscurity – even with his strong work as a TV analyst – but he’s only going to be 58 during the football season and, despite the perceptions, he wasn’t that bad at Notre Dame. His crime was that he didn’t make the Irish a national superpower again, but as it’s becoming more and more obvious in the decade since getting canned, that wasn’t really his fault. He had two nine-win seasons and a BCS appearance in his five campaigns, and he set the foundation for Ty Willingham to step in and shine right away. Now he has to take over the impossible task of righting the ship after the Mike Locksley disaster.
80. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Fuente has a bright future ahead him. He’ll learn pretty quickly, though, if a stint at staggering Memphis will serve as a roadblock to his considerable potential. Larry Porter, too, was brimming with upside when he paired up with the Tigers, but lasted only two years on the sidelines. Just 35 years old, Fuente possesses the boundless energy needed to excel at a job that requires an almost non-stop, 12-month-a-year commitment. A one-time quarterback, who was instrumental in the development of current Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton, he’ll bring fresh ideas, an inventive approach and a winning attitude from his five-year stop at TCU. If he can survive the early rounds of this title fight, he’s liable to catch the eye of a much bigger program before reaching his 40th birthday.
81. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Only 59 this football season, Cubit is still relatively young with a lot of coaching life left in him. His passing games have ripped up the MAC for years, and there are no signs of slowing down. While he has yet to get the Broncos to get over the hump and into the MAC title game, they’ve finished second in the MAC West over the last seven years and have always been competitive with three bowl appearances and a solid 47-39 record. He has to come up with a few more key conference wins and he’s 0-3 in bowl games, but under his reign Western Michigan is an established player in the MAC world.
82. Joey Jones, South Alabama
The needle is pointed up for relatively young head man who has done nice things with the program since taking over in 2008. The Jaguars have gone 23-4 under his tenure including a 10-0 2010 season. The former Alabama receiver is a rising prospect who’ll have to take a few lumps with the program moving up into full-time FCS/Sun Belt status, but he’s not going to turn 50 until October and has proven to be solid at putting together good defenses, especially against the run. If he has any success over the next few years he’ll grow into a hot name for a next-step-up job. He won’t be off to a top BCS job any time soon, but if he can get more out of his offenses and the Jaguars can be more than just competitive, he could be gone for a decent Conference USA gig.
83. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
It’s been completely forgotten, but the foundation for all the great things that Gary Patterson is doing at TCU was kicked off by Coach Fran. The 10-1 2000 season was enough to land him the Alabama gig, but he never could find his footing at Texas A&M going a decidedly mediocre 32-28 in five seasons. After three years off, he’s getting one final career stop at Texas State, a decent lower-level program with promise. After taking over a team in needing of rebuilding and going 6-6 in his first season, there’s hope that he can find a little bit of the magic that turned Pittsburg State into a D-II powerhouse and New Mexico into a strong WAC program in the 1990s. At 61, there’s still time left for another run.
84. Jon Embree, Colorado
The book on Embree is extremely thin since he’s only been a head coach for one year. And in that season, his 3-10 Buffaloes were predictably overmatched in their first season in Pac-12 country. Speculating on the coach’s potential in the future is a complete roll of the dice; not only is he green at this head coaching thing, but in the years leading up to his return to Boulder, he was merely a tight ends coach for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins. The hope around the Colorado campus is that Embree’s energy and enthusiasm for his alma mater will resonate to the region’s coveted recruits. Reversing a decade-long trend of futility requires an upgrade in the team’s overall talent level.
85. Terry Bowden, Akron
It’s not exactly a move back to the big-time, but after a terrific three-year run with 29 wins and three D-II playoff appearance he’s trying to take a step back up. Akron has hit the skids since winning the MAC title in 2005, and was a complete and utter disaster under Rob Ianello going 2-22 over the last few seasons. Bowden is a big enough name and a good enough coach to restore the glory in a hurry, and don’t be shocked if he makes Akron relevant again soon. He’s still young, and he has something to prove.
86. Darrell Hazell, Kent State
Can he make Kent State a winner? The program has just one winning season since 1987 and two since 1977, but Hazell knows Ohio and was a proven assistant over the last decade at West Virginia, Rutgers, and Ohio State; he knows what winning programs are supposed to do. However, considering he’s a sharp offensive mind, there’s a ton of work to do after finishing second-to-last in the nation in total offense. It was the defense that saved the day on the way to a decent 5-7 season. He might still need a while, but he’s a good coaching prospect and was a nice get for KSU.
87. Don Treadwell, Miami University
On offensive coach who helped make Cincinnati and Michigan State rock before taking over the MU job, Treadwell struggled in his first season, but the team was close to coming up with a nice record. The 2010 team managed to win every close game on the way to the MAC title, and last year’s team managed to lose every nail-biter going 1-4 in games decided by seven points or fewer including the last three games of the season. Treadwell’s passing game was outstanding and efficient, the defense wasn’t all that bad, and in a lot of ways the team was better than the 2012 version. He’s a rising coach who could quickly be a hot name if those close losses start going the other way.
88. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Real Sports episodes and accusations aside, he got a raw deal at Auburn getting shipped off after one awful 5-7 2008 season. Of course, the program came up with a BCS championship two years after he left, but he also got Auburn to a national title level in 2004 with a 13-0 season. He won at least a piece of the SEC West five times over a six-year span, and then finished second twice before the 2008 crash, but the program wanted to move on. Unfortunately, he’s not quite having the same success at Texas Tech.
He’s in a bit of a rough spot in Lubbock. A large segment of the fan base still can’t understand why Mike Leach is now the head coach at Washington State, and Tuberville had to come in and try to keep what Leach did offensively. The problem is that Leach is Leach, and no one runs the high-octane spread passing game like he does. The offense hasn’t been as effective, but it hasn’t been bad. The bigger issue is a defense that suffered a slew of injuries and was miserable last year, even by Big 12 standards. After last year’s slide into the abyss after the win over Oklahoma, it’s win or else time.
89. George O’Leary, UCF
In UCF, O’Leary found his final stop on the coaching journey. The Knights—and Orlando—have proven to be a perfect fit for a man who was looking for restitution almost a decade ago following the resume-padding debacle at Notre Dame. The coach and the school have been perfect for one another, blossoming into a Conference USA power and a future member of the Big East Conference. O’Leary’s impact has extended well beyond the standings, reaching the classroom and the bottom line, as both the facilities and the attendance have improved dramatically. The coach is a bona fide difference-maker on campus, but he’ll also be 66 years old when the 2012 season begins. Five years from now, he’ll probably have traded his assistant coaches for caddies.
90. Rich Ellerson, Army
His system should work at Army, but the overall execution hasn’t quite been there over the first three seasons. He has improved the program and got the team to a 7-6 season and a bowl win in 2010, but things regressed last year going 3-9. Phenomenal at Cal Poly, he turned the Mustangs into a DI-AA powerhouse with seven winning seasons in eight years and three Great West titles in the final five. The difference, though, is that Cal Poly could throw the ball efficiently and effectively, while Army has been among the worst teams in America at putting the ball in the air.
At 59, he still has several good years left to turn Army into Navy. First, though, he has to beat Navy. The idea when Ellerson was hired was to hope the running game that made the archrival so successful would work for the Knights, and while it should, it might take a little bit more time. Ellerson is a good talent who’ll be just creative enough to get the most out his team.
91. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
It’s taking a long time to try making NMSU a winner, but the program has had just one winning campaign since 1999 and is still trying to dig out from under the Hal Mumme era. However, Walker needs a good year after taking a positive step forward going 4-9 last season. Again, though, he hasn’t had much to work with and is just now getting the pieces he wants in place. A terrific assistant for well over a decade, he’s a good coach who was put in a bad situation. If this doesn’t work out, he’ll be snapped up in a heartbeat as someone’s defensive coordinator or as a position coach in the NFL.
92. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Blankenship got off to a solid start in his debut as a college head coach, leading the Golden Hurricane to eight wins in 2011, including seven in league play. A well-respected veteran in the state of Oklahoma from his days as a championship high school coach, he’s made a smooth transition to a new level by helping light a fuse under the Tulsa offense. While Blankenship’s offenses can be loose and unpredictable, his approach to the job demands that his players are disciplined, accountable and fundamentally sound. At the age of 55, he still has at least a decade left in the tank to chase after titles and new job opportunities.
93. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Tim Beckman took off for Illinois and Toledo looked around for a little bit before deciding to promote from within. Campbell is only 32 years old and doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but he was able to step in as an interim and lead the Rockets to a win over Air Force in the Military Bowl. One of the main offensive minds behind Toledo’s tremendous success, his attacks should shine from the start and he knows the team and the program well enough to keep producing without skipping a beat.
94. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Tremendous in his five years at Lehigh - going 44-14 with two Patriot League titles – and 35-22 at Elon, he got a shot to take over a Ball State program that went back to being Ball State after Brady Hoke took off to San Diego State. Lembo kicked off his era with a win over Indiana and came up with a win at Ohio on the way to a 6-6 season that stopped the program’s slide. The defense was the second-worst in the nation and the offense was merely average, but he was able to pull off enough wins to be bowl eligible while throwing a scare in eventual MAC champion Northern Illinois.
95. David Bailiff, Rice
Bailiff has twice hit the high note in his career, but was unable to sustain it. In 2005, his Texas State squad went 11-3, only to slip below .500 the following year. And since guiding the Owls to 10 wins and an improbable Texas Bowl victory in 2008, the team has been unable to cobble together a winning season since then. In fact, they’ve gone 10-26 over the past three years, laboring badly on both sides of the ball. The coach now stands at 23-38 overall while at Rice, still searching for the Chase Clement-led magic that once spearheaded the program to unprecedented heights. Yeah, he’s definitely been weighed down by the limitations of the Owls, but excuses are beginning to fall on deaf ears in Houston.
96. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
He was given the impossible task of taking one of the worst programs in college football and trying to do something with it. No one could produce at a place that had one winning season since 1989, but English was going to give it a try. After a 2-22 start, he seemed ready to be added to the list of EMU coaches who tried and failed. While going 6-6 with most of the wins coming against teams like Howard, Alabama State, Akron and Buffalo might not seem like anything special, it was parade time for the Eagles. All of a sudden, EMU has a defense, the rushing offense worked, and the team was competitive with its last three losses coming by a combined 14 points. 44 when the seasons starts, English is young, talented, and finally starting to see results.
97. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Bowling Green was supposed to be a cup-of-coffee stop for Clawson, who was seen as the next-big-thing coach on the Urban Meyer fast track to greatness. He was sensational at Richmond, taking the program from 0-11 to three conference titles, but his offenses haven’t been able to get the job done in BGSU. While the numbers have been fine, his running games haven’t worked and the defenses haven’t done nearly enough. Even so, he’s still in the mix for other jobs and is still considered as a decent name for non-BCS job openings. With a 72-72 career record and a 14-23 run since taking over Bowling Green, he needs to come up with a special year to generate a buzz again.
98. Charley Molnar, Massachusetts
It’ll be up to Molnar to take UMass into the new MAC world and make it competitive right away. The former Notre Dame offensive coordinator knows the MAC having coached quarterbacks at Kent State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Central Michigan, and now the well-traveled coach has found a home. This is his first time running a program, and turning 51 this summer, he has the fire and the attitude to make the program his with a fun offense and good passing attacks,
99. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
The former Florida State quarterback is a victim of his own success. He took Middle Tennessee to a bowl game and a share of the Sun Belt title in his first season and went 10-3 in a terrific 2009. The expectations were for the Blue Raiders to dominate year in and year out, but consistency has been a problem. A nasty schedule and huge personnel losses led to a 2-10 2011, and while the team should be able to bounce back quickly, his status could be up in the air if the team doesn’t pick back up. While his overall coaching record might by 35-40 with just two winning seasons in six, he’s been a positive for the program.
100. Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State
Was 2011 a sign of things to come? San Jose State is tough to win at, with Dick Tomey coming up with one of just two winning seasons since 1992, but he couldn’t sustain the success. In came MacIntyre, a relative unknown candidate with no head coaching experience most of his career spent as a positional coach. After a miserable first campaign, he came up with a solid Year Two, closing out with nice wins over Navy and Fresno State led by a passing game that started to find a groove. But 5-7 isn’t exactly anything to chirp about, and he’s still a bit of an untested unknown.
2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings
- The Top 20 |
- Part 3 - 51-75 |
- Part 5 - The bottom 24